SÃO PAULO – Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benítez announced on Sunday 18 January that he had changed the command of the national police after drug trafficker Marcelo Pinheiro Veiga, better known as Marcelo Piloto, killed a woman who visited him prison on Saturday, 17 in Asuncion. The decision was announced after a meeting of the Security Council convened by Abdo Benitez.
"We made the decision to replace the commander and deputy commander of the National Police," he wrote in his Twitter account. Bartolomé Baéz and Luis Cantero respectively leave the post. The measure was to be expected after it happened in the dependencies of the specialized group where Piloto was imprisoned. It is believed that the drug trafficker, member of the commission of criminal commissioner Comando Vermelho (CV) in Rio, killed the woman, identified as Lidia Meza, 18, to avoid extradition to Brazil. He used a dessert knife to commit murder.
Women's minister, Nilda Romero, also took a Twitter stance on her death. "The ministry repudiates the case of extreme violence that has led to a young woman's life and urges the other competent institutions to take all necessary steps to clarify what has happened, to identify the responsible person and to apply the appropriate sanctions."
The offense took place one day after the trafficker refused a preliminary hearing on a case of producing false documents and illegal possession of weapons, a procedure to expedite his extradition, causing the hearing to be suspended.
A few days earlier, Piloto held a press conference within the specialized group, denouncing the bribe payment to the Paraguayan police in exchange for protection, which caused criticism to senior police authorities. His lawyer, Argentina, Laura Marcela Casuso, who organized the group, was shot Monday, January 12, at Pedro Juan Caballero, on the border with Brazil.
At the end of October, the Interior Ministry announced that it had dismantled a plan to try to release the drug dealer after a police operation that led to the death of three suspects in the Red Command and the controlled explosion of a vehicle carrying explosives – in the rescuing action of the detainee.
The drug trafficker was in custody in Paraguay last December. The Rio Court sentenced Pilot to 26 years in prison. In Paraguay, he is arrested for murdering and falsifying documents, but a case for extradition was opened at the request of Brazilian justice.
The Paraguayan authorities have also released a video this month in which the CV threatens to kill Paraguayan Attorney General Sandra Quiñonez in retaliation for his extradition to Marcelo Piloto. If the assassination is confirmed, Piloto will have to respond to the investigation, making extradition difficult. / WITH AGENTS